Exercise is necessary for dogs to stay healthy, happy, and mentally stimulated. However, how long, and how often, should you walk your dog to avoid overexerting him?
This often depends on a dog’s breed (is he an active breed), size, age, as well as his health conditions.
It has been observed that small breed dogs such as Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pugs benefit from just two sessions of 30-minute walks per day!
With that being said, let’s dive deeper to look at some deciding factors.
How Active Is Your Dog?
A dog’s breed will determine how much exercise he needs. Some breeds are naturally more active than others and will require more exercise depending on their nature.
Small athletic dogs such as Dachshund, Yorkie, Pomeranian, Chihuahua and Beagle will need a lot of exercise. They have high energy levels and need to burn lots of calories to release their pent-up energy in their body.
Whereas low – energy small dogs such as Pug, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu will naturally be less active than their counterparts and are known to live a sedentary lifestyle.
They will be sluggish and lazy and unwilling to go for any walk that is more than 10 minutes long. This is particularly so if they are overweight. The extra weight will make them even more lethargic and keep them from being active.
A YOUNG dog of any breed generally requires more physical activity than a senior dog or one who has health problems.
Your dog should be exercised daily for at least 2 sessions of a 30-minute workout. You can bring him for a walk in the neighborhood or take him to a dog park for a run.
Exercise will assist in strengthening your dog’s mental health and improving his overall wellbeing.
Age Is One of the Deciding Factors
The need for frequent walks (two walks per day lasting 30 minutes each) is necessary for young, energetic small dogs.
A small dog will leave his puppyhood and enter his adolescent stage between 3 ½ to 4 months of age and, by the age of one year, he will have reached his adulthood.
The adolescent stage will be the time when your dog will start getting energetic and show an increased interest in walking around, exploring the world.
This will be the time that he will need to have more frequent walks to release his pent-up energy and develop his social skills.
It is worth noting that female dogs tend to mature faster than males.
As for older dogs (more than 10 years old), they are susceptible to muscle weakness, arthritis, and other health issues such as diabetes and thyroid disease, which can affect their mobility.
With that in mind, older dogs may not be able to keep up with the frequency, pace and duration of a walk.
Is He in Good Health?
If you have a healthy dog, you can walk him every day for up to two 30-minute sessions.
Dogs with medical conditions such as diabetes and obesity, however, may have trouble walking for that duration with no occasional rest breaks.
You should therefore limit the walk to only 15 minutes for your dog per session if he is having some health related issues.
Watch out for signs that your dog is feeling discomfort with his walk, such as looking fatigued, dragging his feet, slowing down in his walk or even refusing to walk any further.
Inspect his paws to ensure they are not cracked or excessively dry. Look for any swelling or infection on his paws or coat as well.
Did Your Dog Run Freely in Your Home?
This may seem unrelated to how often you should walk your dog, but hear me out. It is certainly a factor that determines how frequently you should walk your dog.
Your living conditions will also determine the frequency and duration of the walks your dog needs.
You might need to take your dog for more frequent walks during the day if you live in a small house where he has less space to roam.
By taking your dog for a walk, you give him the opportunity to get out of his usual living environment, play outside, and explore new places.
The converse is true if you have a large backyard with plenty of space for your dog to run, play, and poop. He already had his fair share of exercise for the day and would need fewer walks.
You should never replace your dog’s walk with house-bound activities because he will learn social skills through exposure to a variety of stimuli including people and dogs on the street.
When Is the Best Time to Take Your Dog for a Walk?
There are no set guidelines for this. Generally speaking, it depends on your lifestyle, and it is up to you to decide when it is time to walk your dog.
If you need to start work early in the morning, an evening walk after dinner would be a better choice.
You would likely have to make the walk a slightly longer one (maybe an hour) as there will be only one walking session for your dog.
Whereas if you are home – based, you can spread the walk into 2 sessions, one in the morning and another in the evening, each lasting for 30 minutes.
Ideally, a morning walk will be much better for your dog as it will help to release the pent-up energy that his body had built up the night before.
This will keep his energy in check, and he is more likely to behave himself for the rest of the day.
Routine walks are important and can promote your dog’s overall health in various ways, as described below:
Strengthens his joints – A prolonged period of time sitting at home can be detrimental to your dog’s joints. Walking keeps his joints moving, allowing him to remain healthy.
Improving his digestive health – Walking helps your dogs to stretch, pee, and poop, which is very beneficial for his health. In turn, that keeps his digestive and urinary systems in good shape.
Keeping his weight in control – Walking is a great way to lose calories. It helps your dog stay fit by reducing excess calories.
Having said that, you should always make the walk an enjoyable experience for your dog. Keep the frequency and duration of his walks at a level that motivates your dog to keep going.